Long-awaited improvements to betting laws in Ireland should be prioritised this year, with 2 separate bills due to be issued soon. Updates to the Gambling Control 2013 draft law and the Gaming and Lotteries Amendment proposal, which would see legislation that has been in place since 1956 modernised, are being worked on by members of the government. Developments are expected on both these acts in a matter of weeks.
An Interdepartmental Working Group on Gambling, presided over by David Stanton, of the Fine Gael political party, will be submitting proposals to the government for a modernised Gambling Control Bill in the next few weeks. This is likely to suggest that a new, independent regulatory authority be established, an issue which was originally raised at the beginning of 2018.
The Gaming and Lotteries Amendment Bill, also fixed to be filed in the next few weeks, aims to provide for the greater promotion of regional Lotteries, the standardisation the application process for licenses and permits, and the monetary limits on bets and prizes for gaming machines increased where these are licensed in particular areas of local authority. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice stated that the intention is to see an all-inclusive reform of the laws around the licensing and regulation of legitimate betting activities being adopted. It was also revealed that the Minister of State is of the opinion that there will be general support for these improvement proposals.
The Working Group, made up of all stakeholder departments and the Attorney General’s Office, has met a number of times over the last few months. Deliberations have been focussed particularly on the independent body that would assume responsibility for the regulation of gambling. Plans outlined in 2018 suggested that the duties for this regulator would include overseeing advertising, the collection of an obligatory levy that will go towards funding access to treatment for problem gamblers, compliance, and licensing.
The primary 2013 Gambling Control Bill dealt with a number of betting sector aspects, including the limitations placed on advertising and responsibility for regulation to be undertaken by a body within the confines of the Department of Justice. Its publication was followed by a consultation period with industry stakeholders, and although it was generally well received it never went ahead. This was in part because of how technologically complex the industry is, says Deputy Anne Rabbitte of the Fianna Fáil party.
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